- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wall Street closed Monday with mixed results as investors wait for earnings reports this week from major banks and other indicators about the struggling U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,057.81, down 25.57 points. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index closed up 2.17 points, to 858.73, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 1,653.31, up 0.77 points.

Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among the major financial companies scheduled to release earnings reports. Financial companies were among the first and hardest hit in the global recession but have contributed to the five-week rally.

Citigroup was up 25 percent, to $3.80 a share, at the close of trading Monday, and Bank of America Corp. was up more than 15 percent, to $11.02 a share.

Goldman Sachs is expected to release its results Tuesday, followed by JPMorgan Chase on Thursday and Citigroup at the end of the week.

U.S. markets have posted gains for five straight weeks, including big gains Thursday when Wells Fargo, the second-biggest U.S. home lender, forecast a record $3 billion profit for the first quarter. The better-than-anticipated profit sent the Dow above 8,000 for only the second time since early February. The markets were closed for Good Friday.

“We're seeing so much strength in financial stocks” ahead of the reports, said Brian Lipps, a vice president for Charles Schwab & Co. “People want to know what is on [banks'] balance sheets and whether there is a demand for loans. I think these reports will provide guidance on both of those things. There's a lot of optimism. We'll see if it's well-placed.”

Major companies from other industries also are expected to announce earnings reports this week. Those companies include Intel Corp., Johnson & Johnson and General Electric Co.

Key economic reports on housing, inflation and manufacturing also are expected this week.

Before U.S. markets opened, Dow futures dropped 67 points, to 7,950. S&P futures closed at 847.50, down 4.80 points, and Nasdaq futures dropped 7 points, to 1,329.00 In overseas markets, Japan's Nikkei stock average dropped 0.4 percent. The major European markets were closed Monday for Easter.

Analysts said the markets also are reacting to a New York Times report that the Treasury Department is telling General Motors to prepare for a bankruptcy filing by June 1. GM stock dropped 33 cents, or 16.18 percent, to $1.71, at the close Monday.

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